Tenacity

Singer/Songwriter Margaret Glaspy

I knew it was going to be a late night, so I ate dinner and took a nap.  There was too much time to kill between dinner and going out.  Napping was the best strategy.  After all, I’m not a night owl by any stretch of the imagination.  As most of you know, I get up around 4 a.m. most days, meaning I go to bed at an undisclosed early hour (let’s just say I go to bed earlier than my nine-year-old nephew). 

The nap was for strength: I was going dancing with my bestie Julian and his bestie Margaret (whom I had never met).  Julian and I had been talking about going dancing since in utero.  

Cars & Trains Singer/Songwriter Tom Filepp

Tom Filepp is one brave soul.  

That's what I thought the first time I saw him perform.  All alone on a stark, blank stage in New Hampshire (or was it Maine?), musical gadgets and gizmos blinking and syncing all around him.

Me? I can barely get my guitar in tune and my amp to work, much less fiddle around with different pedals or stompboxes.  That's why I don't use 'em.  I keep things simple and concentrate on my touch.  But I'm just a guitar slinger.  

What does Tom sling?

Caroline Brooks ... 1/3rd of the Good Lovelies

I don't even remember when I met the Good Lovelies, Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough, and Sue Passmore.  It was definitely when I was living and making music in Canada, but where exactly in that great north country did I meet them?  Was it in the Royal City of Guelph?  Was it that circus-like February weekend in Montreal at Folk Alliance (when I also met Lori Cullen, Duane Andrews, Kurt Swinghammer, and Pat Boyle)?  Was it at the always-killer Hillside Festival?  The mist of time is thick and I am disoriented, pleasantly so.

No matter.  Allow me to introduce you to the sweet sound of the Good Lovelies (one of Canada's premier folk bands) and to one third of that power trio, Caroline Brooks.

Gregory Pepper

It is a very tricky thing to introduce you to Gregory Pepper.  In fact, it was so intimidating that for awhile I put it off.  Finally, I stopped being such a baby and decided to ship this interview with Pepper because by now he's probably thinking: "WTF, Schutt?!  What ever happened to that interview you asked me to do??" 

Here goes ...

Who is Gregory Pepper?  

He is a man of many nicknames: Peps, Pep Pep, Pepper, GP.   

He is a man of many bands and band names: Gregory Pepper and His Problems, Common Grackle, Big Huge Truck (to name only a few). 

He comes from the Royal City of Guelph, Ontario.  Guelph (pronounced "gwelf") is the best little gem of an Ontario town.  I lived there for seven years.  I call it the "Austin, Texas of Canada."  

Augusto Monk

Multi-instrumentalist Augusto Monk is one of my oldest musical friends.  He's been in the trenches with me since we first met at Berklee College of Music way back when.  We would meet in the school's shitty little practice rooms with the broken-down pianos at midnight almost every night of the semester to practice ear training together.  We'd stay until they kicked us out at 2am.

Originally from Argentina, he's lived in Boston, London, and now Toronto.  His music is equally as nomadic.  At any given time, I have no clue what instrument he is playing, what kind of music he is making, or if he is even making music at all -- sometimes he paints, draws cartoons, or makes films

(PS: watch the entire film; the password is Brass)

We go a long time without seeing or talking to each other, but when we do, we always fall into deep discussions about the nature of making music.  Invariably, we wonder: did those endless nights of ear training teach us anything? Anything at all?  Or were they just an exercise in stamina?  Or was that the point?

(This interview is part of the TENACITY series.  Read the FAQ here.)

Colin Stranahan

I've been wanting to ask Colin to be a part of the Tenacity series since I first met him, and I first met him through Facebook. 

He came to know my music in some mysterious way (who ever really knows how these things work) and he reached out.  We had a lot of musical friends in common, so it was only a matter of time before we met and played together.

And play together we did at one of the last gigs I had in NYC before my Mom got sick and I took two and a half years off from making music in public.  Colin brought his small kit, crammed himself into a corner at the Gershwin Hotel, and we played a set of tunes.  It was a magical, memorable night.

(This interview is part of the TENACITY series.  Read the FAQ here.)

Damian Erskine

It all comes back around.

Way back when I first started keeping a blog and first conceived of the idea of the TENACITY series, I knew that the first musician I wanted to interview was Damian.

Why?  Because he is an old soul.  I knew it from the first time we met.

Damian is one of my closest friends from my Berklee College of Music days. Now, we only get to hang out when we are recording or touring, but no matter ... I know this fellow has my back.  He's a big brother to me (and I am rich in real big brothers - I have two).  We can (and do) talk about almost anything.  He is open, wise, caring, and real. 

He is also one of the funkiest bass players on planet earth.  Seriously.  His chops are jaw-dropping, but he knows how and when to use 'em.  He's got awesome sauce in his hands and heart and it only comes out at the right time, if you know what I mean. 

In honor of my new blog, I asked Damian to revisit the TENACITY questions from where he is now.  His answers from 2011 are also below.

 

Alan Ferber

Did I ever tell you that the trombone is my favorite instrument?

It's true.  My love of the trombone was instantaneous and forever.  It happened in a dark, sparsely attended memorial concert for the founder of Berklee, Lawrence Berk, during my first semester at Berklee.  Phil Wilson, the legendary trombonist and faculty member (whom I did not know at the time, but would come to know very, very well) got up and played a solo version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" that literally stopped my heart, stopped time.  Frozen.  The sound coming out of his trombone had color to it.  It was  gold.  I swear.  There was nothing and nobody else in the world except for him, his shining playing, and the moment-by-moment unfolding of this familiar yet suddenly, achingly tragic song.

I was done.  Cooked.  Ever since then, I am a sucker for a trombone every single time.